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Council housing - move tenants subject to decreasing family size?

350 replies

whatever17 · 29/05/2011 00:47

Do you think that tenants in social housing should be moved after their family's have grown?

For instance, a family gets a 3 bed house then the kids grow up and leave. Should the parents be forced into a 1 bed property? SHould they have to leave their family home after 40 years?

If so, surely no one would have any pride in the property. If they feel they have "a home for life" they will beautify the garden and keep everything respectable.

Should the solution be that there is enough social housing for everyone in need?

OP posts:
smokinaces · 29/05/2011 19:55

I'm really split on this.

I live in a 3 bed council house. Its now just me and 2 boys under 5. We could have a 2 bed - in fact the boys choose to share a room at the moment. But this is my home - I have lived here for 2 years, spent a lot of money decorating it and looking after it and dont want to move.

My neighbours either side are "under occupied" too. To the left of me is a single mum with her 2 teeange daughters in a 3 bed house. To the right is an elderly couple in a 3 bed house who's grandchildren live 3 doors down. They have lived in that house for 50 years, moving out and back in whenever updates were made to it, choosing to return.

So technically we should all move to 1 and 2 bed places. But, we all make up a community street. We are an unusual road here, with everyone knowing each other etc - very old fashioned in some ways. There would be a big (IMO bad) change to the neighbourhood if we all moved and these houses were all used to house families of 5+.

But saying that, in 20 years when my kids are gone I can see myself being open to an exchange to a smaller property.

It is hard. A council house is an empty shell when you get it - no carpets or wall coverings or anything. You spend a long time decorating, putting love into that home. So I can see why people dont want to move on when their houses become too big.

But I equally can see that a family of 4 housed in a 1 bed flat because the 3 bed house has an elderly woman rattling round in it isnt ideal.

IvyAndGold · 29/05/2011 21:47

i'm on the side of housing as big as you need. luckily in my area there are a lot of one bed flats available, a lot of them in blocks with lifts which are only let to people over 60 or with diabilities. in fact, the majority of places on the bidding system, at least for the last few months, are only for them, i'd say 75%, so should they want to downsize, it would be a lot easier than some of the posts i've read for other areas.

what really get's me is hearing things like the son of a family friend and his gf, who refuse to work, because 'why would we if we'll get everything paid for?' who are offered a two bed house as said gf was heavily pregnant, but turn it down because they 'can't be arsed with the garden and we want three bedrooms.' So they were put in a big two bed flat, but no, still moaning, so their solution to get their three bed house is the girlfriend getting pregnant again. DP, DD and I are currently stuck in one small bedroom living with MIL and her DP, both of who have very serious health problems and us being here isn't helping at all, along with three dogs, one which has violent epileptic fits, which makes the other two vicious. probably looking at a good couple of years here at least. feel so guilty for not being able to provide DD with somewhere she can call her home :(

happy4eva · 29/05/2011 22:04

The right to buy has gone and everyone will be sent out letters within the next 6months i have already had mine lol so thats how i know..
I do not want to stay in mine forever it has helped me when i needed the low rent but as soon as my studys is over i am hoping to save to buy a house in the furture.. :) i do think they are very useful from the council but i feel i should give mine up when i can to give a new family the same chance

happy4eva · 29/05/2011 22:05

Its horrible the waiting list now my brother said somthing like 5 years?? :( not good

Earlybird · 29/05/2011 22:29

I am interested in the number of posters who state that money spent on council housing improvements should entitle them to stay for as long as they want because 'it is their home' - regardless of how their life situation changes.

It is admirable to want to make your living space more appealing, comfortable, cozy and aesthetically pleasing. But, isn't the reason people have extra cash to spend on improvements due (at least in some measure), to the fact that they are paying a subsidised rent that is much lower than market rate? Yes, they are 'helping' the council by improving the property, but the council is 'helping' them by charging an artificially low price.

Why not view it as an arrangement that works for all concerned until it is time for a change due to different life circumstances?

And as someone said above - many people are 'forced' to downsize and move elsewhere when they retire, and are no longer earning. it is not uncommon. I should think it will be increasingly the norm as many people have no pensions, and view their property as their 'pension fund'.

fyrtlemertile · 29/05/2011 22:38

You appear to have missed my point usualsuspect, everybody pours money into their homes, council, rented, mortgaged, owned outright. Money that can't be recuperated but what you're spending it on is having a nice place to live now. I firmly believe council tenants should be no different in that respect. Yes there need to be houses available, yes single people shouldn't be living in 3 bed detacheds when a family of 4 is in a 1 bed flat but I think it is actually indicative of the entitlement culture to think that someone deserves to live in a house with 1/2/3 spare bedrooms when others are in far greater need.

And it is different if you own a house, it's yours, if you rent, either from a landlord or the council you don't and the house isn't yours. It is an asset of society's which should be given to those most in need of it.

smokinaces · 29/05/2011 22:42

Earlybird, its not just making it comfortable or appealing. When I got my house there were no floor coverings at all. There were no wall coverings. It was bare floorboards in very bad condition, with bare (badly plastered) walls. I didnt put the money into the house to make it more aesthetically pleasing - I did it to make it habitable. And at the time I had to borrow that money, and am still paying it back 2 years later. So yes, I do feel that I on some levels I want to be able to stay here as long as I please.

I have seen the other side - I know of families of 5 that were crammed into 1 bed flats because of lack of housing. But equally, when they got that flat they were a family of 3 - they chose to have 2 more children whilst living in that environment. I also have a friend who fled her exhusband because of domestic abuse, he is still residing in their old 3 bed council house alone after 3 years.

My council do put a clause in their contracts saying they can rehouse you if your circumstances change. They just choose not to apply it. I remember sitting in the council offices in tears when my husband left begging to keep my house as I couldnt put my children through any more upheaval yet I was now under occupied. The council workers assured me that they had no intention of moving me - and rarely forced people to rehome.

onagar · 29/05/2011 22:45

Dormitories that's the answer. :) Don't allow anyone to have a home (even the PM) just have dormitories and assign people to them. If we bulldoze all the private homes in this country there will be loads of room for them.

No one would object I'm sure as it's only fair.

bluearrows · 29/05/2011 22:47

happy4eva - that must be just for your area. I know there is no policy to end RTB in my borough - my sister works for the council and this was confirmed in a meeting a couple of weeks ago. There haven't been any plans from central govt to end RTB, although some individual councils have been able to end it.

fyrtlemertile · 29/05/2011 22:49

sometimes I miss my halls of residence onagar, food provided and washed up, all communal areas cleaned, fill in a form and a nice man would come and fix stuff, or change a light bulb... if they had some sort of communal creche I would be dragging DH along in an instant. I hear some even have gyms and pools onsite now... Wink

Ishani · 29/05/2011 22:49

My parents put a new mfi kitchen intone their council property n 1987, cost them £3k at the time. How we all laughed when they mOved outthe council ripped it out because it wasn't good enough for the next tenants. They also ripped out £2,000 worth of perfectly good carpets I had put in my flat when I left which seems nothing but spiteful, however if it bothered me that much I'd have taken them with me as could anyone else.

happy4eva · 29/05/2011 22:54

Im not sure on that one
The letter recieved stated Under the new goverment law not my local council law but who knows lol

happy4eva · 29/05/2011 22:55

received rather

mummakaz · 29/05/2011 23:03

I'm split on this one too. In theory yes people should downsize when there children have moved but I know I would be gutted if I were forced out of the house I had called home for years :(

lesley33 · 29/05/2011 23:19

I appreciate it can be hard for older people to move from a house/area that they are familiar with and perhaps have a support network nearby, but what about children whose lives are only just beginning being forced to live in terrible, cramped conditions because of the lack of suitable housing? What chance will they ever have if their start in life is this poor."

My point was that if older people are forced to move away from neighbours who practically help older people, there will be an increased cost in social services care that would need to be taken into account. Older people may have lived a lot of their life, but they deserve still to be washed, dressed and fed and have help if they can't do this themselves.

activate · 29/05/2011 23:20

Yes social housing should fit the number of people living there

tomhardyismydh · 29/05/2011 23:21

in the early 90's my mum was kind of pressurised to move to a smaller house, she didnt really mind she had a 4 bedroom place and didnt need it as we had all left home, she had spent money on it, but isnt that all relative whether you own it rent it or what ever. the council wrote to her informing her as she was a single person living in a four bed house and the demand was high for Families they have proposed she should look at these two bed places for her continued housing needs and sent details of what 2 bed places they had available. I think it is only right someone should consider others needs against their own.

usualsuspect · 29/05/2011 23:24

As long as all people considering other peoples needs are only council tenants?

thats ok then

expatinscotland · 29/05/2011 23:27

The proposals are only for new tenants.

I think that's fair enough if the tenant knows at the outset.

tomhardyismydh · 29/05/2011 23:33

I think that should be the case in social housing, society, population living has all changed and there is a higher demand for social housing than their are social houses, that I do not agree should be the case but unfortunately it isnt the case, so social housing must IMHO be utalised against need. That is not an ideal world agreed but it is unfortunately a reality.

I am not able to get a council place, private rental is crippling me, I have just lost £30 a month in HB and so would be far more financially viable for me to live in social housing, unfortunately I would be on the list most my life. but that is the reality of it. I have not even registered on the council list as I am able to just about manage with rent etc, not sure how long lets just hope my rent is not increased. But I realise the reason I will be on the list for a very long time is that their are people far more needy than myself. so yes I do believe if you are relying on social housing and a single occupant in a 3 or 4 bedroom, you have a responsibility to have consideration for others who are more needy.

tomhardyismydh · 29/05/2011 23:33

is the case not isnt

fyrtlemertile · 29/05/2011 23:34

well the council, and by default then the council and tax paying population doesn't own my house as they do council houses. DH and I do. This is the same for home owning people.

If you are given a low rent property then you have to accept that while on the plus side you are being given a house you otherwise couldn't afford it isn't your house.

I don't expect to be seen in A&E if I have a minor sprained ankle or a smallish laceration requiring stitches before someone whose had a heart attack, or a baby with meningitis or a child whose been in a car crash. Their needs would be greater than mine. Same sort of principle.

smokinaces · 30/05/2011 00:19

Its such a difficult situation though. I mean, stereotypically those most in need do seem to be (round here) families on benefits with many children with no intention of working for the foreseeable future. If you were to house all these families in the social houses available, you would lose some of the stability and diversity of the current communities.

I'm not saying every council tenant is like that (I am one and I work part time, same as my neighbours, but we are existing tenants) but from working in the local area, most of those in the high priority listings are these families. If you lump all the elderly or single people in one area, all the large families in another etc surely pockets of deprivation etc would get worse again?

That is one thing that private renting with housing benefit has done, and the right to buy of council housing - some estates are now far more diverse than they ever were, which has meant (especially round here) more stability. If you lose the ability to stay in a property long term (e.g 10yrs plus, even 40 years) you also lose that community, that stability etc. And that pride in the area to some degree also, as why would people try and better their homes and their lives if they are likely to lose what they have built? I meant, if you get a council house on benefits, but are told you would lose it if you start earning money (and therefore arent as needy as Joe Bloggs down the road) wheres the incentive to get a good job? Also, would you then end up with families having more children to keep their homes?

Sorry, its late and I'm hungover so not sure how much sense that has all made.

lesley33 · 30/05/2011 01:07

expat - The proposal is not just for new tenants. Only new tenants can be given a short term tenancy - a minimum of 2 years. But couples or a single person in a 2 or 3 bedroomed house won't be entitled to the full rate of housing benefit because they are under occupying. There will be no waiver for exceptional cases e.g. people in their 90's who a move could kill.

If this just affected new tenants I wouldn't have a problem with it. If you know in advance that you are going to have to move to a one bedroom place when your kids leave home, then that seems fair enough. That is not the situation.

TheHumanCatapult · 30/05/2011 08:35


Yup Im a single parent on benefits 4 kids .Saying that when comes to claiming Hb they count my £54 a week carers as a wage .( mind yet thats below the minium wage ) .

I did not choose to be a single parent or have a child that is disabled or to end up disabled myself and am waiting on a council place ,fingers crossed I end up in a priorty group banding mind not helped by lack of bugger/adapte dproperties .

Ok know my situation is slighty differnt to some .
But tell me this what would you call a higher need .Elderly person in a 3 /4 bed house or the fact that I can not get into a bathroom .
Unless first get out my wheelchair in the hall .slide down in to my bottom and drag/crawl into my bathroom then have to pull myself up on to a toilet ,or when using a cathter having to self cath into a bucket in my hall as am to tired to crawl,drag into a bathroom .I want a shower it is the same crawl drag myself into bathroom and then sit on floor in the shower .then in reverse back to my wheelchair

Maybe I have a sense of entitlement ( have been told I have and not in a nice way ) but then I feel that being able to go to the bathroom is pretty much a human right .

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